Key Stats: Look past the 21 wins he accumulated in 2011. Instead look at a pitcher who is 27 years old, who not only post a career high in Wins, but decreased his BB/9 by over 1 and his ERA by almost a run from the previous year. He increased his K/9 and the percentage of ground balls he gave up. Not only did he also proceed to give up less fly balls, but his HR/FB ratio dropped by 3%. 20 wins in 2012 is far from a guarantee, but there is no doubt all his supporting numbers moved in the right direction from years prior.
Skeptics Say: In addition to his ground ball percentage increase, his line drive percentage increased by over 3%. This explains the increase in BABIP from ’10 to ’11. On the plus side of that, his opponents batting average remained nearly identical those two seasons (.223 and .222). Arizona is a friendly ballpark for homers, so him keeping the ball out of the air is a big plus, but he is forced to rely on good defense to keep the rest of his numbers down. If the Diamondbacks falter at all there from last season, Kennedy could be looking at a bigger regression then just 5 or 6 less wins.
Peer Comparison: In early mocks, Kennedy is going as the 18th SP off the board, just after Cain, Latos and Shields, but before Strasburg, Bumgarner and Hudson. Players like Greinke (14th), Gallardo (12), Haren (11), and even Hamels (7th) are all players I would pass on in drafts if I could be assured of getting Kennedy in his current 7th round average selection. At that spot he is a great value capable of K’s, solid ERA and WHiP as someone who can also give you 200 innings.
Team Outlook: Offense will not be a problem this year, with the big power bats coming back along with the addition of Jason Kubel (provided he can get back to 2009 form, which at 29 years old, isn’t out of the question). However, Kubel is a horrible defender and good defense is something the Diamondbacks pitching staff needs.
What They’re Saying: CBS Sportsline – #13 in the Top 100 Starting Pitchers ; Tristan Cockcroft of ESPN.com – #16 in the Top 70 Starting Pitchers & #60 in the Top 250 Players; RotoChamp – #71 in the Top 300 Players
Projection: 20 Wins is tough to come by, but as I stated above all of Kennedy’s peripherals moved in the right direction, and things like his FIP and SIERA, while all higher than his actual ERA, don’t indicate a big regression could take place in 2012. That being said, small regression is expected this year.
15 Wins, 3.30 ERA, 195 K, 1.10 WHIP in 220 innings.